Talks concluded on developing surface-to-air missile

France wants to take “full part” in the economic development here and will also like the Indian business community to look at investment opportunities in that country, visiting French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

“We would like both countries to cooperate. India is already the 13th largest investor in France and it can create more investment and employment there. India can also look to access the European Union market,” Hollande said at a press conference.

Asked whether the visiting dignitary could assure India that no middlemen will be involved in the sale of French fighter jets to India, the President said there will be nothing contrary to principles of doing business in concluding the deal.

“The common focus is that trade must be based on the rule of law,” Hollande said.

Meanwhile, India and France have agreed to promote an ambitious and balanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union based on reciprocity and mutual benefit to boost bilateral ties. This has been stated in a joint statement issued at the end of talks between Hollande, and Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

The two countries also agreed to encourage closer people-to-people contact through easing mobility and human exchanges, promoting education, science and cultural co-operation as well as expanding trade and investment.

To foster mobility of people, both sides noted the progress in negotiations of a bilateral agreement on people mobility and migration with a view to concluding it as soon as possible.

In the area of space, both leaders agreed to move forward, after the success of Megha-Tropiques satellite launch in October 2011 and the upcoming SARAL satellite launch. Both satellites contribute significantly to environmental and maritime survey purposes, the joint statement added.

Addressing the media after meeting Hollande, Singh said India and France had concluded negotiations on the short range surface-to-air missile, which was approved by the Government, and will be co-developed and co-produced here.

“There is a welcome shift from defence trade to co-development and co-production of advanced defence items here, which will help expand our domestic production base and strengthen the India-France strategic partnership,” the Prime Minister said.

Singh said India and France reviewed progress on the Jaitapur nuclear power project and reiterated “our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed.”

The Prime Minister said he and the visiting President agreed to the need to “reinvigorate” economic engagement by “harnessing the enormous synergies”.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 14, 2013)
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